FCC calls for industry-led cybersecurity efforts

Cybersecurity remains a key issue for the U.S. government. The threats posed by cybercriminals to the country's infrastructure and intellectual property are serious and may have wide-ranging implications.

Addressing this issue, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler recently devoted a major speech to the topic of cybersecurity. In this statement, Wheeler argued that the private sector should take the lead, rather than waiting for federal regulations to combat the problem.

Private initiative
Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, Wheeler emphasized the need for a market-based approach to cybersecurity within the telecommunications sector.

"The private sector-led effort must be more dynamic than traditional regulation and more measurably effective than blindly trusting the market or voluntary best practices to defend our country. We believe there is a new regulatory paradigm where the commission relies on industry and the market first while preserving other options if that approach is unsuccessful," said Wheeler.

Wheeler suggested that the technology surrounding the telecommunications sector had evolved too quickly for legislation to keep pace. For the world's communication networks to remain safe, organizations must take the lead on cybersecurity issues.

"[Telecom firms] must step up to assume new responsibility and market accountability for managing cyber risks," Wheeler explained. "This begins with private sector leadership that recognizes how easily cyberthreats cross corporate and national boundaries."

A different course
Reuters reported that this represents something of a departure in tactics for the FCC. In the past, the commission attempted to impose industry-wide cybersecurity standards. However, this effort received significant resistance from the larger organizations in this sector.

While Wheeler's comments suggest a different course, they reaffirm the FCC's objective of improving the cybersecurity of the telecom sector.

In order to spur on this private-sector-led cybersecurity effort, the FCC will soon ask communications-based companies to report to what degree they have voluntarily embraced the cybersecurity best practices drafted previously by a multi-stakeholder FCC advisory group, Reuters reported.

Ultimately, Wheeler identified four key principles that will guide the FCC's cybersecurity policies going forward. These include a commitment to the "freedom and openness of the Internet," privacy and cross-sector coordination (as opposed to silos of security). Additionally, the FCC intends to embrace a multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance on a global level and resist any international efforts that go against these values.